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May 23, 2022



Czech capital to see temporary accommodation for Romani refugees from Ukraine in the Troja neighborhood so they need not sleep in the train station

11.5.2022 17:42
Romani refugees from Ukraine at the main railway station in Prague, Czech Republic - May 2022 (PHOTO: Lukáš Cirok)
Romani refugees from Ukraine at the main railway station in Prague, Czech Republic - May 2022 (PHOTO: Lukáš Cirok)

A temporary shelter with personal hygiene facilities for refugees from Ukraine will be created in Prague's Troja neighborhood for 150 people. Firefighters have already been instructed to build the "tent city" by Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN), and will start construction this evening. 

The spokesperson for Prague City Hall, Vít Hofman, and the spokesperson for the firefighter service in Prague, Martin Kavka, announced the plan today. Reportedly there is not enough accommodation in Prague for the refugees, which is why the "tent city" is being created. 

The Czech News Agency (ČTK) reports that in addition to the "tent city", the establishment of a refugee shelter in a former barracks in the Karlín neighborhood of Prague is being considered. The Interior Minister tweeted this morning that nonprofit organizations will be involved with the situation. 

Rakušan also said the "tent city" will be up and running by tomorrow. "Minister Rakušan instructed firefighters today to build a small tent city at Troja," Hofman said on behalf of the City of Prague. 

"However, we already know right now that this solution will not be sufficient. It will solve the problem of just 150 persons," the Prague spokesperson said. 

"The Government has to address this, including Prime Minister Fiala. Asylum and immigration policy is, in this unprecedented situation, absolutely their responsibility," Hofman said.

"From the beginning we have considered building a tent city to be the most extreme solution and we are doing our best to address the situation through other, more appropriate methods," the city spokesperson said. For his part, Kavka told ČTK that firefighters will start erecting the emergency housing this evening so that the tents will be ready by Thursday morning. 

After that, the firefighters will hand the tents over to the Refugee Facility Administration, which is meant to be in charge of them. Prague reportedly no longer has any available capacities to accommodate refugees from Ukraine. 

Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) posted this morning that he had warned the Government that the creation of a "tent city" should only be the option of last resort. Hřib also sent a letter to Fiala calling on the Government to create a system for distributing refugees throughout the regions of the Czech Republic and warning that if they do not, Prague is at risk of "collapse" and he would have to close the center for refugees in the quarter of Vysočany due to the overload. 

"This is not in the purview of the Regional Authorities, it is for the Government of the Czech Republic to solve. We have been repeatedly calling on the state for aid for several weeks as we are at full capacity and the Refugee Facilities Administration is allocating us just a few dozen beds a day," Hofman said. 

"The situation is unsustainable. We cannot afford to permit children to sleep on the floor somewhere, on the platform," the Interior Minister told journalists this afternoon in the Chamber of Deputies.

"It's dangerous, unethical, inhumane. At this moment it's all the same whether these people are entitled to temporary protection in the Czech Republic or not," the Interior Minister said.

The temporary accommodation will be overseen by the Refugee Facilities Administration together with Prague City Hall, and the Romani nonprofit organization Romodrom will contribute to the management, with other such organizations providing aid as well. "We, as the state, will guarantee the food and the personal hygiene facilities, i.e., enough toilets, portable bathrooms and such," the Interior Minister said. 

At the level of the Regional Authorities, according to the minister, enough available accommodation capacities have not been found. "This is not about refugee camps starting to spring up in the Czech Republic, this is not lodging that is permanent," he said. 

"These are people who arrive in Prague and who have to be vetted for whether they have dual citizenship," the Interior Minister explained. Many Romani refugees from Ukraine have dual Hungarian/Ukrainian citizenship and, as citizens of the EU Member State of Hungary, they are not entitled to be aided as refugees in the Czech Republic. 

"Despite this, we cannot let them sleep on the ground at the train station," the minister said. The capital city is currently addressing the problem of Romani refugees from Ukraine in particular who are stuck at the main train station. 

According to civic initiatives, hundreds of people are living there in undignified conditions. There are 70 beds in the hall of the Fantova building provided by the Czech Railway Administration, and 210 more people are being allowed to sleep in a parked train. 

However, all of those capacities are frequently filled, leading to people sleeping in the corridors. The Prague City Hall has been asking the Refugee Facilities Administration at the Interior Ministry to aid them all along by allocating housing.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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